Monday, February 14, 2011

Making Chinese Dumplings

The Templeside Guest House, like many other hostels, hosts some entertaining activities for the guests. This evening was dumpling making night. Because of the time of year, there were only three guests participating tonight - a couple from the UK and myself.

Tonight's dumplings are a thin-skinned variety called jiaozi. The hostel staff prepared the filling and the dough in advance, then called us to come downstairs to the sitting room adjacent to the kitchen, where they had set up an assembly line.
The owner rolled out the dough, with her five year old daugher assisting. There is a special technique for rolling the dumpling wrappers to leave the center a little thicker than the edges, to keep the filling from bursting out when they are cooked. It looked like a small bubble in the center of each dough round. Watch how she holds the dumpling in the center and turns it as she rolls out the edges.
The filling was a mixture of ground pork, garlic, ginger, scallions and seasonings. It was really difficult to judge the right amount of filling to put on each dumpling so that it wouldn't be too empty, yet not so full that the edges would be hard to seal.
This is not the first dumpling that I made, but the first one I made that looked halfway decent. The pretty crescent-shaped one on the right below was made by the owner, the one that looks like a little dinosaur by me.The misshapen dumplings we clumsy newbies made were placed on one tray, and the perfect half-moon shaped ones made by the staff on the other tray. The reason for this is that boiled dumplings must be sealed perfectly or they will burst open in the pot and the filling leak out. Pan-frying is more forgiving and even the dumplings that had filling hanging out of them held together when fried. Pan-fried dumplings are called guotie.

We had a good time making fun of our odd, lumpy, leaky dumplings, and took great pride when we made one that might be "boil-worthy".
My goodness, we made quite a lot of them!After we made two full platters, the staff cooked them up and we all sat down to eat the dumplings, served with a dip of vinegar and soy sauce. (There were more than this, we had already eaten some at this point and more were still cooking!)

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